This month I have been trying to learn brush lettering and thought I would share what I have learned so far.
Tools of the Trade: There are tons of brush options out there from actual water color brushes, to Crayola markers, to Tombow brush pens and the like. I think the Crayola markers are a great way to start. They are cheap and easy to use. After struggling for a month with a Prismacolor brush pen I finally bought a cheap set of Crayola markers and the brush lettering started to click (below). I then “graduated” to a set of Tombow dual brush pens that worked relatively well (above).
I just received an order of Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens that everyone on Instagram seems to swear by and I’m looking forward to experimenting with them (the big drawback with them is that they aren’t available locally so I had to order them online). It looks like the Fudenosuke Brush Pen may be between the Crayola markers and the dual brush pens in terms of hardness and difficulty of use. I tried a watercolor brush with watercolors briefly but that seemed to add an unnecessary degree of difficulty. I think you really need to master the techniques first before trying that and I’m not there yet.
Scale: I had a tough time with scale and I think scale is definitely linked to size and type of pen. Initially I think I was trying to write too small. With the Tombow brush pens and the Crayola markers 3/4 inch seems to be the right size between base line and x line (bottom and top of most lower case letters). The new Fudenosuke Brush Pen have a smaller tip which allows a smaller scale (1/4 – 1/2″).
Slant: I don’t typically slant my writing at all in my day to day life, but for some reason slanting the letters seemed to work better for me. It was also helpful to slant my paper about 45 degrees (or maybe more) to the front of my desk to write. Initially I was doing my writing on a pad on my lap which is not a great way to learn.
Embellish your lettering: These embellishments can add enough zing to your lettering to compensate for a less than perfect script.
Shadows: I use either a gray Tombow brush marker or a Faber Design Art Marker (and even the gray Crayola) to shade below and to the right of all the letters. The Tombow is more subtle but it can also “bleed” if it gets too close to the lettering.
Multi tone letters: Lots of ways to do this but my favorite is relettering the bottom part of each letter in a second color. You do this by putting a piece of cardstock over the part you do not want to color and relettering.
Highlights: I put some highlights on my letters with a white gel pen (Mitsubishi Pencil company Signo White Pigment Ink) that I had laying around.
I’m a long way from perfect but it is fun to practice and try new techniques and pens.